Thursday, 10 January 2008

New nukes? No thanks

Today's announcement that the Labour Government wishes to see a new generation of nuclear power stations built in the UK comes as no surprise. Indeed, they have announced their support for nuclear power before, but were forced by the courts to carry out another consultation on the issue as the first was was so flawed. Amazingly enough, their new 'consultation' has reached exactly the same conclusions as their first.

But no matter how many times they announce it, it's still the wrong decision. As Chris Huhne said during the leadership election, nuclear power is a technology which has been tried and tested - and failed. Despite billions of pounds of support from government, nuclear power proved to be much more expensive to produce than other sources of power. It leaves a legacy of nuclear waste which takes thousands of years to deal with. It is not a renewable form of energy, as it is reliant upon a non-renewable resource, uranium.

It's not even as if nuclear power is that good at reducing carbon emissions. Firstly, because of the large amount of energy involved in producing them, it takes quite a while for any nuclear power station even to become carbon neutral. And Greenpeace has estimated that even if the UK had 10 new nuclear power station up and running by the mid-2020s, that would still only result in a 4% drop in the UK's carbon emissions.

If the billions of pounds which it takes to provide new nuclear power stations were instead invested in energy conservation and in a range of renewable energy sources (onshore and offshore wind, wave and tidal energy, solar and geothermal), the impact on the UK's carbon emissions would be far greater. I'm delighted that in his response to the government's announcement, Lib Dem environment spokesman Steve Webb made this point.

Building new nuclear power stations is a waste, in more ways than one.

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